tv Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 15, 2013 6:00am-7:00am EST
point is that of many people on the outside looking in. i don't know the specifics. as many specifics as i would like to know about the opposition and what is in if confirmed, i would like to have the ability to go in and assess to see what is possible. if there are things that are possible, what options do we have? i do not feel as if i can give you a concrete and informed recommendation at this point. >> i hope you will share the sense of urgency many of us feel about this situation and about the dire predicaments many of those courageous -- predicament
that many of those courageous fighters who are opposing the barbaric regime that the president assad regime has become. i urge you to present your recommendation to this committee as soon as possible. i hope more can be done militarily to deprive president assad of his superiority where he has in the air and his forces on the grounds that he is using to slaughter of the citizens of his own country. >> yes, sir. >> thank you, mr. chair. my time is expired. my thanks to each of you for your extraordinary service in the past. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank general austin
and general rodriguez and their families for your extraordinary service to our country. i want to follow up on what senator blumenthal discussed. we worked on this no contacting with the inari provision that has given authority to d.o.d. to cut off in may -- contacting authority provision that has given d.o.d. authority to cut off funds that go to our enemies. i appreciate your commitment on that. i look forward to working with senator blumenthal and both of you to make sure that happens. when senator donnelly ask you about you having been through the process of deciding what a follow on process should be,
that was in iraq, right? >> yes. >> what was your recommendation on the troop levels the should remain? -- that should remain? >> i provided a range of options to leadership. i have never made public with my recommendations were. >> it was reported that your recommendation was between 14,018 thousand troops. is that accurate? -- between 14,000 and 18,000 troops. is that accurate? >> i have not made my recommendations public.
>> you have said in answer to senator mccain that you have not been involved in the decisions on troop withdrawal in afghanistan or the follow on force? have you spoken to the general about what their recommendations -- about what the recommendations are? >> no. >> there was a report in the washington post found that there was a reduction in salt of no more than 25,000 troops during that -- sought of no more than 25,000 troops during the same period. would that surprise you? have you followed in the of the
public reporting? >> i have read some of what is in the media. my experience is that that is not always accurate. >> let me follow up. there are military officials saying pulling out 34,000 leads to a dangerously low military personnel level while the fledgling afghan police need our support. it will send a signal that america's commitment to afghanistan is going wobbly. i am surprised that you have not had conversations about this important question at this point. if we are in a position where withdrawal puts us in a situation where we are going to be dangerously low on military
personnel, i would expect you to come forward to this committee and tell us your professional opinion as to what we should be doing? will you do that? >> i will do that, ma'am. there are a number of things the commander considers as he makes his recommendation, the task he has to accomplish, his assessment of the environment he have to work in, any significant transitions like an election, the other things like the fighting season he has to go through. all of that goes into his calculus to provide a range of options in terms of recommendations. as the leadership looks at it, they will consider other things. i have no idea of what exactly went into that calculus.
>> i went to a deployment in new hampshire of a guard units that is going to afghanistan. one of the worries i have is that the numbers being floated by the administration on the follow on -- don't we have to worry about the protection of our own forces? >> that is one of the things our commanders have to take into consideration, whether they can provide adequate protection of their troops while conducting operations in the area. depending on what the specific missions earned they will be asked to do and how much of it they will be asked to do, when you factor in force protection and other things, that lays out what the commander thinks his requirements are. typically, he will present a
range of options. >> we need to take into account the protection of our own troops. if we get to a number that is so low that we cannot protect our own troops, i will be concerned about that. i respect your professional opinion on that as we go forward. why does it matter end? why does a good outcome in afghanistan matter? >> it is as important to the region -- it is important to the region. the united states of america has a lot invested. we would like to see the political system begin to grow. if the right things happen, it will stabilize things in the region and it will help us with our relationship with pakistan
and some other things. it is important for the region and it is important for the country of afghanistan and a portent for nato and the united states of america. >> i know my time is up. general rodriguez, i would like your answer on why this matters to our country. we have sacrificed so much there. why does the outcome of afghanistan matter? >> it is one of the things that was one of the objectives, that it never became a haven for al qaeda, so that we can protect the homeland and our interests worldwide. >> thank you. i will have follow-up questions for both of you. >> general, thank you for your service to the army into the nation. i cannot think of two more
dedicated and experienced officers to leave our forces in the various areas of command you have been assigned. quebec -- correct me if i am wrong, you were a major general in afghanistan. you were a three-star in iraq in the multinational forces. you are one of the few going into a.o. where you have current -- you have commanded every level. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> one of the issues we have touched upon is iraq. from your perspective, are the problems more political in nature or more military capacity? what we have seen has been a chaotic political situation.
sectarian --ns, demonstrations and sectarian operations. >> that is a fair assessment. security forces have done reasonably well. >> going forward, the challenges seem to be more political than any type of military threat from the outside or an uncontrollable internal threats. is that a fair assessment? -- or uncontrollable internal threats. is that a fair assessment? >> yes, sir. >> it is communicating with leaders of different countries. i can think of several. one is pakistan and one is egypt because of our relationship to
the military. the you have any perspective now with respect to your likely engagement in pakistan and the egyptian army? >> i am working on developing a good working relationship with the military leadership in pakistan. i think it is essential to our overall relationship. it will be helpful for us trying to move forward with what we are doing in afghanistan. in egypt, we have long enjoyed a great military to military relationship that has been helpful to us. we will continue to try to build upon that going into the future. >> let me ask you another question. with respect to our forces in
afghanistan, as the vice chief of staff of the army, it would be highly unusual that you would be participating in the deliberation of strategy going forward in afghanistan or any other area of operation. is that fair to say? >> that is correct. >> the planning was done appropriately through central command the one up into the secretary of defense's office to the president for the final decision. that is the way it is done. >> that is correct. >> your collaboration will increase if you are confirmed. you will have an opportunity to work closely with all of the commanders for a period of several months. >> that is correct, sir.
it will give me an opportunity to engage leadership on the ground, to get a clear understanding in terms of all of the elements that have gone into this, which is a tightly controlled process, and rightfully so. >> thank you very much. general rodriguez, thank you for your service. you are taking over a region that is our newest unified command. four or five years ago it was not relevant. it is appropriate and fitting that you are both sitting side by side. what happens in egypt has certain defects in your command. can you give us your sense, being the person engaged in
temporal -- delivered planning, can you tell us how positions -- how well positioned africom is? >> the united states has operations that are ongoing. bill are the -- there are the lra -- the lra that are ongoing. they are threats militarily. there are others. >> you touched on something that is a critical issue, that is governmental capacity, the ability of government to provide basic service, the ability of government to function and respond to the true needs of
their people. one of the issues we talked about is that we have had military training operations that have gone into african countries as part of africom with mixed results. do you have any sort of ideas on how you will improve the military training team that will be a major aspect of your operational capacity general -- of racial capacity? >> training has been focused on tactical and technical and some of the things we did not emphasize were the values of the army and the role of the military in a democracy. those are some of the things he has already started working on. i will watch that carefully and confirmed and go forward in the best way possible. >> there are very few people left served the army and the
nation which your careers and distinction in your dedication to the soldiers. >> thank you. >> thank you. i would like to thank you gentleman and your families for your service and dedication to this country. i would also like to thank you and the service people you represent and their families for their service to this country as well. i would like to continue on the washington post article that came all recently. it did suggest that the pentagon is pushing a plan that would keep only 8000 troops in afghanistan. general austin, can you support a plan that was scheduled withdrawal of troops in advance? we are looking at the withdrawal of troops in afghanistan. according to this article, from
8000 to about 1000 in a short period and of time. i have questions if we can even maintain our mission, let alone complete the mission. how can you make decisions on troop withdrawal when, as you stated previously, so much depends on troops on the ground, what the government is doing, what their abilities are at that point. how would you approach a proposal like that? >> i would really work hard to make sure i fully understood what to the leadership wanted to get done moving into the future. my advice as a commander on the ground or a commander of central command -- i would provide my advice to them based upon where i think the security forces are
, the conditions in the theater, and what i think we need to do to move full word to make sure we maintain the gains we have achieved. so much is tied to what it is, what policy objectives the leadership wants to accomplish. based upon that, i would outline the forces required. i would consider the fact that there is a nato, and to whatever forces we are going to have. -- a nato complement -- complement to whatever forces we are going to have. will looke things i
that closely early on. they are still in the process of making decisions on what is going to look like post-2014. >> do you think it is useful to put those numbers out there so far in advance? is there a military reason it is useful to put those numbers out there? >> i do know we are part of a coalition effort. i do know the coalition is really trying to determine what their commitment is going to be going forward. they would like as much predictability as possible. >> i appreciate it senator reed's question that he asked general rodriguez. how would you assess the threats
to your command? what do you see those as being? >> it is a complex and dynamic and volatile region. we see on number of things that are kind of working together to fuel that instability. you see sectarian strife in a number of places. you see former autocratic governments that have failed or are failing creating further instability. the instability is an issue there. there are certainly concerned about the iranian aggression in the region, which adds to the complexity there. of course, there are specific issues of syria and the continuing work we have to do in
afghanistan as well. a number of things that are added together. there is a persistent threat from elements like al qaeda and al qaeda in the arabian peninsula that have the ability to generate a threat to the homeland. that is very important. >> are we going to be able to meet those with the troops that are projected to be there? are we going to accomplish our mission? -- are we going to accomplish our mission? how do we look at families and say to them, we are going to pull out, maybe at levels that i think might be dangerously low as i am getting information on this?
how are you able to do that? when do we reach a hollow force when the men and women we see in -- sent into harm's way are no longer protected? >> the leadership will continue to do everything we can in our power to make sure that when troops are introduced into a dangerous situation or into combat, that they are ready. whatever we have to do to prioritize resources to make sure we support these folks that are doing the hard work of the country, we are going to continue to do that. the services have been clear about the fact that they are going to support our troops in combat. as we look at shrinking topline budgets -- the shrinking top line of the budget, it is going to make it more challenging to
have forces that are able to address emerging contingencies. that is my concern going into the future. >> i would ask both of you gentlemen for your commitment to this committee and to me that you will always be honest and let us know that. >> you have my commitment. >> you have my commitment, ma'am. >> thank you for your dedication and your service to us. >> general austin and general rodriguez, welcome. i commend you for your service. the centcom and africom real estate gives us many challenges. just to mix it up, i will start with general rodriguez.
your deputy commander is a state department official. it is a mission that is heavily focused on partnerships with other agencies. i would like you to talk about the unusual nature of the mission and your background as it outfits you to work in that kind of multilateral environment. >> the headquarters has more people assigned. that is a great benefit to the organization, which stretches and reaches across the agency in an effort that is required to be done that way. in the building partner capacity peace -- piece, we have the
capacity and we have worked hard over the years. we have significant experience trying to build iraqi security forces, as well as -- trying to build security forces and iraqi security forces to do it themselves. i look for, if confirmed, to try to continue that effort to help out to help them prepare themselves -- effort to help them prepare themselves to take care of themselves. >> i have been to two hearings now on the benghazi attack -- a foreign relations hearing and a hearing on this committee. there is still some confusion about security that is provided to our diplomatic personnel around the world.
in the benghazi situation, we were dealing with military security and state department personnel, but also two local militias, one on arms, and one on some sort of strike or work slowdown because of been sick or wages. i would like you to talk about -- and one on some sort of strike or work slowdown because of benefits or wages. i would like you to talk about embassy security. >> if confirmed, i will work closely with the department of state, which has the primary responsibility, to understand and have the best situational understanding so that we understand the ones that are
most threatened so that we can respond appropriately. we need to insure a joint and multinational process to get the best situational understanding we can. we need to make sure the state department understands our response so that they can make the best decisions and recommendations to the leadership. lastly, the response forces have already increase in the aftermath of the benghazi attack and some of the lessons that were learned. there are new commanders in extremist for were stationed -- forward stationed. we will have a commander allocated to africom to help
with these operations. >> in your advance policy questions, you stated maintaining a credible labor force is essential to demonstrating an enduring commitment to regional partners. we had discussions on this committee just this week about the aftermath to defer deployment to the uss chairman. -- uss true man - uss truman. -- uss truman. will it come within your ability to carry out your mission? >> those forces have been outlined. that has been supported by the joint chiefs and resourced by
the office of the secretary of defense. when he does not have those available, when a commander does not have them available, it begins to take away his flexibility to address emerging situations. once you reduce the presence in the region, you could signal the wrong things to our adversaries. i will want to have, if i am command -- if i am confirmed, to have as many options as possible to address the current situation and in the emerging situations or crises. >> what about the message it
sends inside the organization as you deal with your officers and enlisteds? what is the buzz as congress runs up against one fiscal crisis after another when they have no certainty about capacity? >> we know that we need resources. it is difficult to get those resources. having said that, it is the spirit of our military to try to find a way to be successful. we want to make sure that we are resources and -- resourcing them with the things they need to be successful. >> thank you to both of them.
>> i understand we are going to have two rounds. let me know when seven minutes are up. >> we will move into a second round. >> this is one of the most important hearings we have had in a long time. that is saying a lot giving the hearings we have had in recent times. both of you, thank you for your service. we appreciate your families. you are fine man. general austin, here is -- you are fine men. general austin, here is my dilemma. i know what you told me. you told me on the tarmac in baghdad that we needed somewhere between 18,000 and 20,000.
i think that may be more than the market can bear. i know with your recommendations were. it was somewhere in the mid- 15,000-16,000. the bottom line for most people was 10. i have an exchange on how the numbers went from 19,000 all the way down to zero. i would like to put in the record the exchange i had with chairman dempsey about the ever- changing numbers in iraq. the rockies were not saying 18,000 was too -- the air rockies were not saying 18,000 was too manning-- the iraquis -- the iraquis were not saying
-- iraqis too many- s were not saying 18,000 was too many. it was not them saying, we cannot handle that many troops. it was that our own white house was saying, we do not agree with the commander's recommendation. do you remember that exchange between me and the prime minister when we were there in 2011? >> i do, sir. >> we were asked to go to iraq by senator clinton to see if we could push the iraqis to make sure we got legal protection to our troops. when the prime minister said, how many are you going to recommend, i turn to you and you
said, i believe we are still working on that. the recall that conversation? >> yes, i do. >> it was not sent general austin did not know what he needed. it was just that nobody would tell him what they would approve. general austin always had a firm view. i said, that may be more than the political market can bear. i am not insensitive about the fatigue back here at home. i know you were making the best recommendations you could. my problem is not with you, general austin. you put the numbers to paper and at the end of the day, we had none. i want to put into the record a load of articles about iraq.
blood for oil. iraq's returned to bloodshed. -- return to bloodshed. i would like permission to put all of these articles into the record. i would like everybody to know general austin thought long and hard about the residual force. do you remember when you were first getting the job taking over and we had an exchange where i said, in football terms, how would you put us in terms of our situation in iraq in june of 2010. he said, i think we are on the 10 yard line. the next 18 months will determine whether we get to the goal line or give the iraqi is the opportunities to go beyond
2011. i said -- the iraqis the opportunity to go beyond 2011. you talked about the arab-kurd conflict. you told me in no uncertain terms -- do you remember the lions brigade and you have u.s. forces working as a team? that may have been your idea. it was working so well. paramilitary forces that are kurds. now you see a shooting war about to erupt. you told me if we had 5000 people, we could keep tensions
down. do you remember that? >> i do. >> you said we were one perceived slight away from these guys shooting each other. it was a good assessment. what you see now is the story that is about how close they have come to firing on each other over the oil problems. i want to introduce into the record the exchange i had with mpsey in 2011 about what happened in iraq. now let's move to afghanistan. i will not block your nomination. that is not my intent. i do believe it is only fair to the committee that you go talk to general allan, pick up the
phone. do you agree he is one of the finest officers you have ever served with? >> he is a fine officer. >> you all have been at this a long time, all of you. my time is about to expire, so we will do a second round. i want you to go talk to general allan about his recommendations in afghanistan and see if they make sense to you. i know exactly his bottom-line. i know that senator ayotte knows his bottom line. i really do believe we have a right to know what commanders are recommending as much as the commander in chief. we fund wars. he cannot tell us something i want to -- about something we want to explore.
please go to the general and get briefed on his recommendations and write to me as to whether or not they are sound before we vote. this could be done relatively quickly. >> we will move to a second round. i want to point out that the questions to witnesses both answered at the beginning indicated they would provide answers and they had a good faith reason not to provide them. >> i think we have a right to get to this. i do not want to put these gentlemen in a bad spot. >> either we get the answer or a good faith description on why certain conversations cannot be revealed. i will go to senator ayotte. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i share senator graham's
request. i think that is something important for this committee to take up. we have to make decisions on resources that are important. we have an oversight function and i respect the president's function as commander and chief -- commander in chief, but this is an important issue. i want to make sure that when our guys are still there that we have enough troops to protect the guys on the ground. i have a question for general rodriguez. can you help me understand what is happening in eastern libya right now with the gaddafi arms cachet that was not secured after the nato -- cache that was not secured after nato? what efforts are we making to
secure those arms? >> yes, ma'am. they had significant arms caches inside eastern libya, which is the most unstable part of libya right now. the intelligence committee has noticed that many of them have moved and they have increased the capacity of al qaeda. the united states and allies have several initiatives to try to attempt to stem that flow. most of them are on training and he couldn't efforts for both the living -- training and equipment efforts. the border control people are beneficial for some of the training we have done.
we are trying to limit the ability of that to continue to migrate away from libya and into the hands of terrorists. >> when we were on our trip, we also went to egypt. those arms are going into syria. they are also going into mali and other places where they are getting into the wrong hands. that continues as we are sitting here today. that continues. >> in eastern libya right now, we have relations, but we do not have a position with the libyan government is actually stopping the transfer of those arms to do wrong people. >> eastern libya is the most destabilized place. there is no state control of many of those militias. >> we still need to get much
tougher on these arms. this is a dangerous situation. i hope that we take greater action on this. these arms are dangerous. they are getting into the hands of terrorists. this is continuing. i look forward to supporting you and the demonstration to take whatever steps that need to be taken to make sure that happens. i believe this is one of the reasons where, when we think about the concept of been like footprints, that those -- , weept of a light footprint need to make sure we are not chasing them around and they are not used to attack our allies. >> general rodriguez, quick
question. would you agree that the number of troops in any theater is not an end, but a means to an end? >> yes, sir. >> if you are confirmed, if you think the number of troops is not sufficient to accomplish the end you are charged with accomplishing, you will share that concern under appropriate channels with your colleagues and superiors? >> i will. >> if we told both of you you are the only two soldiers left in afghanistan, you would stay and fight to the end, wouldn't you? >> if there is work to be done. >> would you also tell us, we have a high opinion of ourselves, but the chance of success would be pretty low? >> yes, sir. >> would you say the last card
to play in afghanistan is the residual follow on force? >> i would. >> i appreciate that very much. you are absolutely right about numbers. general austin, is iran watching what we are doing in the region? >> they clearly are. >> do you agree with that, general rodriguez. >> the world is watching us. >> if syria is deteriorating and we are leading from behind and iraq is deteriorated and we are sending troops that have a possibility of failure and you had a recommendation of 8000 troops in 2014, by 2017, we
would be down to 1000, don't you think the enemy would be focused on the 1000 and not the 8000? , i think they would. -- >> i think they would. >> i would like to say this to the administration. i know the war is on popular and i would like to end it well. i think we can be successful in afghanistan. we have to have enough ability to keep them moving forward. i know the number of general -- i know the number of the general picture. no nato nation -- i know the number the general picked.
i will wrap this up. i will make some of my questions in writing. we are at a pivotal moment in the war in afghanistan. nato is not going to stay unless we show a willingness to stay beyond kabul. the enemy will look at the bottom number and not the top number. if the president will follow the general's recommendation -- he has every right to pick the number -- as a member of the opposition party and somebody cares about this, i will either stand with him or lie to my objections. i just want the administration to -- stand with him or lodge my objection. i want the administration to know that i will stand with him and i will keep funding the afghan army. i want this to turn out well. it will not be popular at home,
but it is the right thing to do. the administration has every right to make this decision. if they overrule the commanders and create a force that cannot be successful, i cannot, in good conscience, vote to continue this operation. i cannot think of the worst outcome for america than for us to lose in afghanistan after a dozen years of fighting, bleeding, hundreds of billions of dollars. that is the place we were attacked from. called the win in pakistan if you lose in afghanistan? -- how do we win in afghanistan if we lose in afghanistan -- how do we win in pakistan if we lose in afghanistan? >> do you consider -- a
terrorist organization? >> that is a policy decision that has to be made. i will make my recommendations on whether it will be classified as a terrorist organization. >> there was a tad against the headquarters. -- an attack against the headquarters. i like to get your opinion on what happened in the attack on our embassies in benghazi. what were some of the lessons learned from that? >> both d.o.d. and the department of state have taken on the caps that were there in intelligence -- gaps that were there that did not enable us to
respond correctly. the department of state has to be well-informed by the department of defense. the response forces data are available to the commanders need to be continually -- the despite its forces that are available to the commanders need -- the res ponse forces that are available to commanders need to be continually looked at. >> thinking about the air assets. will we have anything if we need to go to that area to respond? how we handle it? >> there are requirements on the department of defense. they need to make some risk decisions across the combat and command areas.
the best we can do is make sure everybody understands the rest so we can make good decisions on where to keep our people. >> i look forward to working with you on that. it is a challenge we face in that area, particularly with what we talked about with the arms that are flowing in that area that are dangerous and are getting into the wrong hands of al qaeda and other terrorist organizations. thank you. >> i returned the gavel to chairman levin. >> i appreciate you taking over the gavel this morning. just a few questions if they have not already been asked. i was trying to catch up on questions that have already been asked. general austin, in your judgment, are the afghan
security forces on track for assuming the lead for security starting this spring? >> my judgment is based upon my interaction with commanders in the field. i was just recently in afghanistan during the thanksgiving holiday. as i went around the country, the commanders i talked to felt that the afghans have developed significant capability and were in the lead in many cases throughout the country. they were hopeful and very positive about where they were, very hopeful that things would continue in the right direction. based upon that assessment, i think the afghans will be capable of taking the lead in the prescribed time line. >> we travel to afghanistan in
january. we heard that the afghan security forces are in the lead in the vast majority of operations in the challenging regional command east. afghan security forces were conducting operations by themselves in a 87% of the operations. have you heard that figure? if not, would that not to be a reassuring that? -- fact? >> i have heard similar numbers and it is reassuring. i have heard from the division commander, who was positive about the performance of the afghan security force. >> thank you. one more question on afghanistan. it is a subject i have gotten into repeatedly.
senator graham and i have worked together to make the same point. that has to do with the future size of afghan security forces. the current proposal is to reduce the size of the national security forces by about 1/30 after 2014, from 352,000 down to 230,000. i believe it sends the wrong signal to the afghans to do that. they are looking for assurance that the allies are committed to an enduring relationship with afghanistan. we wrote to the president last year to convey that point. at the time when we are drawing down our troops, it is the wrong message to be drawing down our suggesting the drawdown of
afghan forces from their current level to a significantly lower level. i am wondering whether or not you feel we should keep the afghan security forces at the 352,000 level beyond 2014. >> keeping the larger force was certainly reassure the afghans. it would also reassure our nato allies that we remain committed. a larger afghan force would help to hedge against any future taliban mischief. you can reasonably expect that an enemy that has been that determined, that agile, will very soon try to test the afghan security forces. that size of a force provides
additional capability to allow the political process is too mature a bit. because of that, it seems a larger force would be a benefit. >> thank you. just one question for you, general rodriguez. this has to do with an extremist force that is desirable and other contingency-response forces that would be useful to put the africomm commander in a position to respond to benghazi. if you have not been asked that question, can you tell us whether you would look for ways to find the greater capability to provide contingency response forces beyond what they currently are and were in the case of the benghazi matter?
>> yes, sir, i would. i will report back to the committee on that. they have made significant improvements and we have to continue to do that. >> thank you both. we look forward to your confirmation. i want to thank the senator for taking over this morning. it is appreciated. >> thank you, sir. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> several live events to tell
you about this morning. the house homeland security oversight committee looks at spending at the homeland security department. that is on c-span 2 at 9:00 a.m. eastern. an examination of the domestic use of unmanned drones. witnesses include representatives of the federal aviation administration and the federal accountability office. in a few moments, today's headlines in your calls today on "washington journal." and in about 45 minutes, we will talk about energy and climate issues with republican issues with republican representative marsha blackburn